Rallying outside of the Harris County Criminal Courthouse last week, Houston Council Member Michael Kubosh and defendant Antwain Townes lodged complaints against a judge who they say is abusing his power.
Townes was charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and was given an $80,000 bond. His family could only come up with $800 of that and went to Kubosh, who is also a bail bondsman, to get the rest.
Kubosh did as he always does in his profession and was able to get Townes released on bond. But neither of them knew that was going to pose an issue with Townes’ judge, Michael McSpadden of the 209th district court.
McSpadden refused to accept Townes’ claim that he couldn’t afford an attorney and ordered him to appear in court at 8 a.m. for 10 consecutive days, saying he would have to show up until he hired someone to represent him.
How the judge expected Townes to afford an attorney or even look for one while being forced to show up to court every day is what is leaving many who are following the case dumfounded.
“It’s very depressing; sometimes I just want to give up,” Townes said.
But McSpadden told local news station KHOU that his critics were wrong. “Any time a white judge has a black defendant in the courtroom, you’re going to see them cry racism every time,” McSpadden said, continuing that he is sick and tired of it.
The council member is not buying it, though, and is asking for the judge to recuse himself from the case. He says the larger issue is McSpadden failing to provide indigent defendants appointed attorneys.
“They do this to oppress the person to take a plea or give up and just make a deal. This is all about judicial oppression,” Kubosh told a local outlet in Houston.
McSpadden has so far refused all calls to recuse himself, and while he disagrees with the accusations, the judge said he will not hold them against Townes as he thinks Townes was being used by both the media and the council member.